Monday 12 October 2015

Cynophobia - Fear of Dogs - #Octobophobia Short Story

My mother was a cancer. An absolute cancer on my life. I’m glad she’s dead.  Or I was, anyway.

I maintain she’s why I never married. Every man I ever got close to always suddenly had second thoughts about the relationship after they had to spend time with her. And every one of them pretended it wasn’t anything to do with her constant undermining, constant passive-aggression and constant neediness. And then she’d make constant comments about me being single again.

She was the worst of all worlds. And she took up my entire world. Phone calls, visits, texts. Just constant bloody attention.

And when I didn’t answer for more than a week or two, she’d get ill. Every time. And it’d be one thing if she was faking it, but she never was. And it was always either serious or had the potential to be serious.

So I’d have to give up time to look after her again. I’d have to move in again and cook for her, clean for her, and – depending on the level of severity – clean her. And she’d take it all with a clear sense of disdain, making it obvious that she considered that she as the one doing me the favour

She’d just sit there, or lie there, like a bloated, poisonous toad. And she’d ignore me and put all of her attention on that bloody dog.

I haven’t mentioned the dog yet, have I?

It was a small, black, wiry, oily, unpleasant little thing. It would follow her around like a malevolent shadow, and she would dote on it with all of the love that she never showed me. “Bluebell”, she called the thing.

It hated me, obviously. Any other visitors, which were few and far between, would be treated as a new best friend. But me… it would sit and watch me warily the entire time. The only noises it made were either high pitched whines or low, petulant growls.

A little ball of hatred, carried around by a woman filled with hate. Like a colostomy bag for bitterness.

Somewhere along the lines, I stopped helping and started encouraging her to die. Somewhere, when she started trying to improve her health, I’d push her towards the unhealthier options. Reminding her how much she loved drinking and smoking. Reminding her how much she loved red meat and rich food.

Somewhere, I started hoping she would die, as I spent every day cleaning up after her, wiping up after her, and avoiding the sullen stares of the dog.

And one day, when she’d shouted at me, abused me and been as ungrateful as she ever had been, I watched her die. She slipped in the bath while I was sat on the edge. She was trying to grasp and get her balance, trying to lift her head above the water.

All I needed to do to save my mother was to reach. With one hand, even. Just enough to grasp her hand and allow her to right herself.

But I didn’t. While the dog clawed at the bathroom door, I just sat and watched. Watched her try to lift herself, but not able to. Watched her panic and desperately try to breathe, but having the water fill her mouth, throat and lungs instead.

I waited. Eventually, I walked out of the room. The dog ran in frantically through my legs and jumped and barked at the bath.

I gave it a while before I called the police.

I tried to get rid of the dog. I did. Of course I did.  

But it didn’t work. I opened the door and found her on the pathway outside. I asked all of my mother’s friends if anyone wanted to take the small, black demon, but none of them did.

So I left it be. I let it just be outside, and went away to work. But by the time I came back, the mutt was still sat there, whining and growling at me.

I couldn’t not feed it. I may have allowed someone I hated to die, but despite my loathing, it was just a dog. And I couldn’t bring myself to let it starve.

It wolfed down any food I brought it at first, but as it regained its strength, it appeared to regain its hatred of me and would snap at me as I brought its food near.

I appealed online, making the dog sound friendly, and it worked. For a week. And then the dog turned up on the path again.

I keep seeing the dog in my head, no matter where I was. Just looking at me with those wide open eyes and the same slight tilt to the head. It always takes me a little time to work out if it’s real or not.

It would be comical if it weren’t for the sheer malevolence. The sheer hatred. It shits wherever it can – not because of a lack of training, but just to make the point which of us is tolerating the other.

I can’t kill it because it’s my responsibility, sitting there and watching me. Nobody else would take it (for good reason). And no matter what I try, it refuses to do anything other than glare, whine or bark.

I may have killed my mother, but the dog looks at me and it knows what I did.  And really, that’s why 
I have to put up with it, however many years it has left.

It knows what I did.

But I can outwait it.

I waited for my mother to die.

I can wait another few years for Bluebell.

And until then, I will feed her and tend to her and clean after her, while she subjects me to whines and growls and hatred.

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